The Ben Franklin Plan: Backwards Planning or is it Planning Backwards?

01Nov09
Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

In honor of Ben Franklin who focused on one virtue a month each year (plus humility, which he worked on all year round on the advice of a detractor), I’m working on one life principle each week from Sunday to Saturday. Will you join me?

By the way, did you know that it was our old friend, Ben, who dreamed up daylight savings time?  Smart man, that Ben…

This week we plan our strategy to achieve our dreams.  I’ve learned that the best way to do that is to, as Stephen Covey would say, begin with the end in mind.  Even if the end you have in mind is years away.  When your future is fully developed in your mind (and on paper, right?!), you can begin to establish your major milestones.  And the steps to reach each of those milestones.

So, for example, let’s say you want to open a bead shop in November of 2012.  And I hope you do because I love bead shops!  Anyway, there’s a lot to do before you welcome your first customer.

You’ll want a prime location that is convenient to your customers. But wait, before you make a move,  you’ll need to figure how what kind of inventory you plan to carry.  And before that, you’ll need to figure out what people are buying.

Another big decision:  What leases are available in those locations?  But, of course you won’t be able to determine that until you have decided the size of your shop.  Or until you know where your customers shop.  And where they live.   And who are these people, anyway?

Well, I think you get the idea.  Each decision depends on your having made the one before it.  This means you’ve got to work backward from your goal to today.  What do you need to do today to open a bead store on November 1, 2012?   That is the most important question.  Backwards planning helps you determine that most important answer.

By the way, you don’t have to open a bead store to practice backward planning, even if I’ll be disappointed that you don’t.  Duh, Turkey Day.  Actually, you’ve been doing backwards planning for years and didn’t even realize it.

So start with the end.  Then end with the start.  Simple.

Week 7:  Backwards planning is the best way to move forward.


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